Pivoting off this thought, a reader proffers another classic Pascal pensee:

A more uplifting Pascal quote:
"Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself in order to crush him; a vapor, a drop of water, suffices to kill him. But when the universe crushes him, man is still more noble than that which kills him, because he knows that he is dying  and the advantage that the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of of this."
Or put more simply by Prem Rawat (I'm paraphrasing): "I hear people say 'I am just a speck of dust in this vast universe'...but oh what a speck!"

I can't say either of these quotes gives me total comfort. Ever since I was five, I have been gripped now and then by dread and panic in the face of the certainty of my own death and an unshakable faith that what comes after my life is exactly what came before it -- nothing. These episodes usually occur in the early morning as I'm lying in bed, when my mind's defenses are still slumbering. "You will die. YOU". My heart seizes up, and I am sometimes driven to utter an "uggghh" at the thought. The only comfort I have ever found is to have someone I love (a friend, a lover, my sister) sleeping next to me. It is not 100% effective, but I will take it, just as I will take life in all its beauty and horror and hope and dread over non-existence.

The notion that I won't be there to experience my own non-existence provides no comfort. Consciousness is the supreme creation of the universe. I am conscious now, and consciousness rightly rebels at the thought of its own annihilation. The fear of death is rooted in a love of life, a love of consciousness. It's just hard to remember that sometimes.

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